Niger Delta govs blew N7.3tr in 13 years Clark

Governors of the oil producing states in the South-South wasted a total of N7.282 trillion in the past 13 years, being petroleum derivation revenues received from the Federation Account, elder statesman Edwin Clark has said. Clark, a one-time information minister in the 1970s, said it was regretful that even though these funds were meant for the development of oil producing areas, those communities have little to show for it.
Speaking yesterday in Warri when he received a delegation of oil and gas producing communities of the Niger Delta, Clark said it was sheer greed on the part of governors to appropriate the derivation funds meant for the oil and gas producing communities.

He said since the funds were meant to develop those areas, governors have no business spending the monies the way they do now.

Based on provisions of the constitution, oil producing states are entitled to 13 per cent of funds generated from oil sales.

The funds are allocated monthly through the state governments, who have come under consistent criticism for mismanagement.

Clark spoke yesterday after he was briefed by the leadership of the oil producing areas who told him that the Federal Government has paid over N7.282 trillion in the past years 13 years as 13 percent derivation fund but the communities have nothing to show for it.

The delegation had representatives from Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Edo and Ondo states.

Clark recalled the pressures exerted during the 1994/95 constitutional conference and during the drafting of the 1999 constitution by the oil producing communities to get special derivation funds.

He said it was the agitation from the leaders and people of the oil producing areas that made the Federal Government to entrench the 13 percent derivation fund in the 1999 constitution to pacify the communities.

Clark questioned the allocation of these funds through the state governments, saying section 162 (2) of the constitution which provides for the payment of derivation fund did not say that the payments should be made through any state government.

He said the fund was created to address infrastructural deficit and neglect of the oil communities, and therefore the derivation monies belonged to the producing communities alone.

He urged for the direct payment of the funds to the communities as a way of bringing development to them faster.

The delegation of the oil and gas producing areas was led by Chief Wellington Okirika, who said they visited Clark to thank and pray for him for his leadership role for the Niger Delta and the country.

They urged for the setting up of a national derivation committee on 13 percent derivation fund with state implementation committees to be set up by the Federal Government to manage the funds on behalf of the communities.

This was not the first time that Niger Delta communities were agitating for direct payment of the derivation funds.

Last month, elders from oil producing states under the aegis of Oil and Gas Communities of Nigeria wrote to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) urging that derivation funds be paid directly to the communities instead of through state governments.

Earlier in the year, Ijaw oil producing areas of Egbema, Gbaramatu and Ogulagha kingdoms in Delta State visited RMAFC chairman Elias Mbam, making the same case.

Mbam agreed with the agitators, saying that the derivation funds were being mismanaged by state governors through their control of the state-local government joint account.